2013 Season Preview: Williams

Williams:

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This team arguably had the speed to grab fifth place in the Constructor’s championship last season. What seemed to be the return of the Williams of yesteryear was mired with inconsistency. There was a disparity between their two drivers. One was unbelievably fast and put the car in grid spots the car had no right to be, and the other was underwhelming in his performances, only making Q3 once the whole season. However, their unbelievably fast driver was known as something of a crash kid, getting into trouble when it wasn’t necessary but the other was much more consistent.

This polarity between drivers is something the team will hope has been eliminated for the 2013 season. Dropping Bruno Senna in favor of Valtteri Bottas was a good move on the team’s part, as the young Finn shows immense promise and has undeniable talent.

Williams was another surprise of the season, due in large part to their win in the Spanish Grand Prix. Pastor Maldonado put in a champion’s drive to hold off a charging Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. While another win remained elusive, it remained a possibility on occasions. Missed opportunities are something Williams will be aiming to eliminate.

Things have started off brilliantly for Williams this year. They opted to launch their car at the second preseason test in Barcelona, running their 2012 car in Jerez. This was an inspired decision, as the team seem to be one of the best prepared for the upcoming season. The car has proven reliable and fast, setting up a front running campaign in 2013.

Pastor Maldonado:

The Spanish Grand Prix winner had a very up and down season. Several brilliant performances were all for naught through silly mistakes and contact with other drivers. Becoming more consistent will be the Venezuelan’s priority in 2013.

Last year, Pastor did a brilliant job of getting the Williams high up the grid. During the races that he finished, Pastor was very good at staying in control and not cracking under pressure. His performance in Spain is testament to this.

Pastor has been emphatic about the performance of the new Williams. Citing a clear improvement over the FW35’s predecessor, Pastor believes that challenging the top teams on a regular basis is not out of the question. We know at least that, as a driver, he is capable of performing at the front of the grid.

While Pastor appears to be with Williams for the long haul, if he has another erratic year in 2013, it will start to become harder and harder to justify his place in F1. Pastor’s situation is similar to Romain Grosjean’s: he is undeniably fast, but if the mistakes are still prevalent this year, it may be time for Williams to look for a replacement.

Valtteri Bottas:

Possibly the most hyped up rookie in recent years, the 23 year-old Finn has been tipped as a future world champion. This is a bold claim considering he hasn’t races competitively since the 2011 GP3 season. Don’t let this dent your expectations, however, because Valtteri is set to shine this year.

Williams has been very loyal to Valtteri in recent years. He brings money from Finland, but it is nothing compared to what some of the drivers from South America can bring. Perhaps this is just a testament to Williams’ loyalty, though they are wise to keep him.

For the long haul, nothing can be for sure. Many are surprised that Valtteri didn’t start his career in a top team right away. Williams will be desperate to keep the talented Finn within the team if all the hype turns out to be justified.

In terms of his preparation, the Finn could be seen as at a disadvantage. He hasn’t raced in two years and he has only had four days of testing in the 2013 car. But Valtteri is insistent that he is prepared for the pressure that comes from being a Formula One driver. Hopefully his 15 practice sessions last year will have served him well.

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